Bienvenue Emmanuelle!

Emmanuelle Couvert has joined the Libraries’ book conservation lab for a three month internship. She is a 4th year student in the book conservation program at the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris.

Special Collections-Preservation Intern Carrie A. Gross

The Special Collections-Preservation paid internship program for the summer of 2010 has selected Carrie A. Gross of Riva, Maryland. Carrie, presently enrolled as a MLIS student at Catholic University is expecting to graduate in December of 2010. Her long-standing interest in literature and books, as demonstrated by her undergraduate studies at the College of William and Mary, has lead to her goal of rare book and manuscript librarianship. Carrie has pursued both work and educational opportunities that support her desire for a rare books career. Most recent is her participation in various projects with the Maryland State Archives, including practical work in their conservation lab. The opportunity to work with the Dibner Library's collection of manuscripts and rare books is what drew Carrie to apply for the internship. Her duties so far have included unboxing and organizing Dibner transfer materials from other Libraries collections. Included are 19th century scientific journals that, once sorted, will be shelved with the existing journal collections. Carrie also spends one day a week in the more »

Spotlight on: Preservation Volunteers

The Libraries' Book Conservation Lab is pleased to introduce Walter Abbott. Each of our volunteers has been essential in helping with the constant workflow within general collections care. Our most recent volunteer, Walter Abbot, has been volunteering since mid-December. He lives in northwest D.C. and has recently retired from his career as an insurance and risk management executive. Walter has been working on production cutting materials for standard repairs. Walter has a great eye for precision and also crafts fine art frames and fishing lures in his spare time. He enjoys traveling and has recently visited Laos, Northern India, Peru, Mexico, and Belize. All of our volunteers help complete many tedious and meticulous tasks that are essential in everyday preservation operations. The current economic conditions have affected all departments of the Libraries, and the already short-staffed book conservation lab would be lost without their help. Many thanks Walter—we look forward to continuing our work with you!—Phuong Pham

Spotlight on: Preservation Volunteers

The Libraries' Book Conservation Lab is pleased to introduce James Cullen. Each of our volunteers has been essential in helping with the constant workflow within general collections care. James Cullen has been volunteering since November and works for the Fairfax County Public Libraries. He received his MLS from Catholic University and his BA in History from George Mason University. James has taken on a wide variety of tasks at the lab, including labeling, large amounts of filing and inventory, assisting with processing new allocations for general collections care, and cutting down hundreds of acid-free tags which get distributed to all of our branches. When he is not immersed in libraries or playing video games, James enjoys playing and watching cricket. All of our volunteers help complete many tedious and meticulous tasks that are essential in everyday preservation operations. The current economic conditions have affected all departments of the Libraries, and the already short-staffed book conservation lab would be lost without their help. Many thanks James—we look forward to continuing our more »

Spotlight on…Vanessa Haight Smith

Vanessa Haight Smith is the Libraries book conservator for the Preservation Services department.  She has held this position for two and a half years. Her conservation career began as an assistant paintings conservator; however, she developed a passion for books after being hired as a senior conservation technician for the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Princeton University Library in 1999. Originally from Falmouth, MA, Smith received a B.A. in painting and art history from Washington College in Chestertown, Md. Upon graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pa. Smith took further graduate studies abroad, earning a postgraduate diploma in Conservation of Library Materials from West Dean College in Chichester, England and an M.A. in Conservation Studies from the University of Sussex. Smith’s book conservation work is pivotal to the Libraries. She treats and prepares special collections materials for exhibitions within the Libraries, for the Smithsonian Institution at large, and also for outside institutions. Smith is the registrar of loans more »

Rassin’ frassin’

In the spring, the Libraries' Book Conservation Lab was contacted by Lilla Vekerdy and Kirsten van der Veen of the Dibner Library regarding a recent donation. The 1775 book, A Father's Legacy to his Daughters, by John Gregory, recently came to the Dibner as part of a donation and had particular trouble. There were traces of mold and evidence of insect damage, usually identifiable by loss to paper, wood, and leather. However, this object was also noticeably infected with the resulting insect frass (excrement). While some areas of the leather covers had been eaten away by the offending insects, the pages were stained yellow and black from insect droppings. This was principally along the longitudinal edges of the pages. As a result, leaves could not lie flat due to distortion by the volume of frass. Clearly, the book proved a suitable rest stop to unwelcome guests (top two images, below).  Turning to our conservation colleagues at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) in Suitland, Md., I contacted Mary Ballard, Senior more »

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